Several friends who are interested in beginning bird watching have requested a list of commonly sighted backyard birds in Eastern Kentucky. To just make a list of birds would not be very helpful, though, as it wouldn’t describe just how amazing these birds are and the wonder and beauty they bring to our daily lives. I put together a few paragraphs detailing our experience in learning about and watching these birds. I’m no ornithologist, and we haven’t lived in this zone (Kentucky) for long, but I hope most of my information is accurate for this area.
I’ll first profile those birds we’ve most often seen in our backyard, however a quick trip to a nearby creek or pond (such as Tates Creek, Hartland Pond or the Lexington Reservoir) would yield additional opportunities to view waterfowl such as ducks, geese and herons. I’ll profile those in the future. For now, get to know the European Starling!
European StarlingAs their name suggests, starlings are not native to North America. My understanding is that it took three introductions to the U.S. for the birds to become established here, and after that, they replicated at such a rate as to drive out other species and become what many people see as a pest. One of the neatest things we’ve experienced in Kentucky is a starling murmuration. A murmuration is a large grouping of starlings that will compete against one or more groupings of starlings in order to find a suitable place to roost in the evening. Around dusk, these enormous groups of starlings will literally dive bomb one another in what one would think is an elaborately choreographed death dance. I’ve heard many gasps from the backseat as the kids think surely the starlings won’t be able to pull out of their nosedive in time! We have thoroughly enjoyed seeing many murmurations over Hartland Park and Veterans Park. Murmurations are common in areas that have clusters of trees suitable for roosting.At first, one may mistake the European starling for the common grackle. They both have an iridescent coat that seems to turn brown to black to deep purple depending on its orientation to the sun. However I think that our starlings are slightly smaller than the grackle, and are certainly distinguished by the white speckles on their underside. They LOVE peanut butter suet; did I mention this? Put out a peanut butter suet, and it will be gone in one day, as starlings come to feeders in groups, rarely individually. They will fight with a larger bird over the suet. We have seen our red-bellied woodpecker fight with a starling many times.